Post-COVID crisis might cause more drug use, bigger drug market – UNODC

Jairo Bolledo
Post-COVID crisis might cause more drug use, bigger drug market – UNODC

ILLEGAL DRUGS. Bureau of Customs, NAIA, PDEA, NAIA-IADITG nab 2 claimants of Php 1.632 BILLION Worth of Shabu on October 31, 2020.

Bureau of Customs

The UN office says the increase in drug sales despite the pandemic is a telltale sign

A United Nations agency painted an apocalyptic picture of the world’s fight against illegal drugs because of the emerging post-pandemic economic crisis.

In its 2021 World Drug Report, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) discussed about this dire impact, foretelling more drug use and an even bigger illegal drugs market after COVID-19 is finally taken down.

On the increase in drug use, the UNODC said that the economic crisis would accelerate the progression of drug use disorders in the whole world. Meanwhile, on the expansion of the drug market, the crisis would intensify food insecurity that would create more illegal drug trade due to the unavailability of accessible jobs and services. 

The pandemic did not also entirely halt the illegal drug trade, according to UNODC. 

Based on the same report, the illegal drug sales in the whole world increased by 4 times. From $80 million in 2011 until mid-2017, the sales jumped to $315 million in mid-2017 to 2020. 

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After 5 years of PH drug war, shabu still a major problem – UNODC

After 5 years of PH drug war, shabu still a major problem – UNODC

Drug markets were slightly affected during the first phase of the pandemic but they quickly recovered, according to the UNODC. 

“Drug markets were temporarily disrupted in most parts of the world during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have recovered quickly. Nevertheless, the pandemic has triggered or accelerated some preexisting trafficking dynamics,” UNODC said. 

Drug trafficking methods during the pandemic include the following: 

  • Larger shipment size
  • Increased use of private aircraft 
  • Increased use of waterway routes 
  • Contactless methods to deliver drugs to end-consumers

The modes of delivery for illegal drugs also evolved during the pandemic. Illegal drug operators utilized land travels during the pandemic despite heavy quarantine restrictions. 

In 2019, 50% of the contrabands were delivered through sea ports, 29% through air travel, while 21% were delivered via mail. In 2020, 50% were still delivered through sea ports, only 8% through air travel, 9% through mail, while 33% were delivered through land travel. 

In the Philippines, crystal methamphetamine or shabu remains the main drug problem, according to an earlier report of the UNODC. The problem persisted even though the deadly war on drugs by the government has been running for 5 years. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.